SB 961 Is On Its Way to the Assembly!

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After winning a 38-0 vote on the Senate floor last week (with 1 member not voting), Sen. Ben Allen's SB 961 is on its way to the Assembly. The bill, which Move LA is sponsoring, would allow local governments to create "Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvements (NIFTI-2)" districts within a half mile of rail transit stations and major transit stops. Any increase in local sales and property taxes within the districts could be used for affordable housing, transit infrastructure, neighborhood greening and other improvements. It's sort of like creating, to quote one person, "mini community redevelopment districts around transit stops.”

The tax increment revenue stream that is created under NIFTI-2—and this provision is key—could be bonded against without voter approval to provide early up-front money for investments as long as 40% of the revenues are spent on affordable housing (half for those making less than 60% of AMI and half for those making less than 30% of AMI or who are homeless) and the remaining 60% is spent on improvements including:

  • Additional multifamily affordable housing projects or mixed-use projects with affordable housing and ground floor commercial uses that support infill and compact development;
  • Transit capital projects, including stations and programs supporting transit ridership;
  • Active transportation capital projects, including pedestrian and bicycle facilities and supportive infrastructure such as first-last-mile connections to stations;
  • Capital projects that implement local complete streets programs;
  • Capital costs of parks, urban forestry, and permanent urban greening improvements along boulevards, streets, and other public areas;
  • Detached and/or decoupled parking structures in lieu of onsite parking for proposed developments and with less than one space per residential unit and with space on the ground floor for pedestrian-oriented commercial or public uses. Parking revenues can be used to implement transportation demand management programs to reduce automobile trips to and from the district;
  • Other projects or programs to reduce GHG emissions and criteria air pollutants by reducing VMT in the community.

The bill language is HERE. But we are working with advocates and Sen. Allen to add language that would help prevent the displacement of people who live in these neighborhoods and the loss of existing housing, as well as to mitigate the impact on local businesses.

Counties, cities and schools currently share property and sales taxes, though the sharing arrangements vary from city to city. Because the NIFTI-2 infrastructure finance districts would require the approval of counties, it is vital that they are made attractive to counties.

Please send us your logo to sign on to our letter of support!

A little history: The theory behind community redevelopment, which was abolished in California in 2011, was that cities could create redevelopment areas and have the authority to use the increase in property taxes (the “tax increment”)—including the county's share—in ways that would create even more property tax revenues for local investment, creating a virtuous cycle of investments and enhanced revenues.

NIFTI-2 districts—like the several other "enhanced infrastructure finance districts" or EIFDs created by the Legislature since community redevelopment was ended—require the county to be a partner and agree to the formation of the district and the use of the tax increment. In NIFTI-2—and it’s predecessor NIFTI—this tax revenue includes both property and sales tax increments. This has made it difficult to create EIFDs since the counties must now agree to give up their share of the increment.

Cities need to figure out how to make NIFTI-2 districts an attractive proposition for counties by more vigorously addressing the priorities they share with counties. For example, the dedication of more funding for transit capital projects and for affordable housing—especially housing for the homeless—could make these agreements easier to achieve, especially if cities bring local matching funds to the table.

In LA County, for example, cities could use other local housing funds or their Local Return funding from transportation Measures R and M (which are providing $160 billion for transit capital projects over 40 years) to enhance commitments to transit projects, affordable housing near transit, or permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless—all priorities of LA County—thereby making it more likely the county would support the creation of these districts.  

We will keep you updated.

 


YESSSSS! We're on the LA2050 Top 25 Finalists List—Winner Determined by Popular Vote!

We've made it into the list of Top 25 contenders in LA2050's "community-guided initiative" to make "Los Angeles the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live by the year 2050." How laudable an initiative is that? And we are indeed honored to have jumped over the first hurdle to become a 2018 contender for $200,000 in funding!

This is particularly poignant because we won this LA2050 competition before—in 2014 with a project called "Dream Big With @MoveLATransit"— when we asked for funding that would allow us to work with a social media expert who could teach us how to seed "a countywide public conversation around public transportation with a digital media platform and strategy." (Thank you Vance Hickin! And thank you LA2050!) That was the very beginning of our campaign to win Measure M and $160 billion for transit—and you know what happened then! (It passed thanks at least in part to the mobilizing we and other advocates and elected officials were able to do using social media.)

But we have an even bigger campaign to win this time—Vision 2020, which you can read about here. Our previous project was in the "Connect" category. This year we are competing in the "Live" category, with a goal that LA2050 describes this way: "Our region’s residents will have the economic means and cultural capital to lead active, healthy lives, and everyone benefits from a sustainable environment.

"By the year 2050," the description continues, "Los Angeles will have the nation’s lowest obesity rates and every neighborhood will have access to healthy, affordable food. Every family will be able to afford quality health care and housing. And no families will face environmental health hazards because of where they live or how much money they make."

The italics are mine, because that's exactly what we want to do: We want to build a really big and powerful 4-county coalition around a very big goal: to end air pollution and abate climate change in SoCal, especially in low-income communities near heavily traveled goods movement corridors, by accelerating the deployment of clean cars and—especially—trucks, by electrifying and expanding Metrolink, and by modernizing goods movement infrastructure. Do we want to dump diesel, too? You bet!

Whether we win is determined by popular vote, and voting begins June 19! Mark your calendars. Of course we'll remind you!


Senator Ben Allen's SB 961 Gets Unanimous Bipartisan Support In 2nd CA Senate Committee

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Move LA is sponsoring Sen. Allen’s SB 961, which won a unanimous bipartisan 13-0 vote in the state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee this past Tuesday, a week after winning a unanimous vote in Senate Governance and Finance. The bill would enable cities and counties to create special infrastructure finance districts near transit that can collect the property and sales tax increment within the district and bond against that revenue stream without having to seek voter approval—so long as 40% of the funds are used for affordable housing.

Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), the chair of Senate Transportation and Housing, had met with Senator Allen (D-Santa Monica) before the committee hearing to make constructive amendments to the bill that would ensure that its housing and infrastructure investment program was targeted to the bus transit corridors most likely to provide significant transit opportunities.

After the committee vote, Senator Beall then looked directly into the California Channel camera that films committee proceedings and made a direct plea to Governor Brown to accept the bill’s provision that removes the requirement for voter approval before tax increment proceeds from these districts can be bonded against. CLICK THE VIDEO ABOVE to see/hear Beall appeal to Governor Brown (via the California Channel) to accept the amendment.

Historically, voter approval has only been required when the bond might require increasing taxes (e.g., school bonds) or might require a city to pledge its general fund as security for the bonds (e.g., general obligation bonds). Tax increment financing bonds are backed by property taxes that grow as property values grow, and therefore neither raise taxes nor involve a city’s general fund.

The bill will now go to Senate Appropriations because there is a small amount of state funding proposed in the bill for evaluating the implementation of this program as well as other infrastructure financing districts.

If passed SB 961 would create “Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement (NIFTI-2) Districts” in the half-mile radius around rail stations and along frequent bus corridors. Removing the voter-approval provision makes this infrastructure financing district much more likely to be adopted, would spend 40% of the increment on affordable housing, 60% on neighborhood improvements, and create new transit-oriented neighborhoods where transit riders could afford to live.

There are active conversations about a carve-out for investments in urban greening as well as active transportation to make a NIFTI-2 district a more attractive place to live in—and to develop housing in—and to ensure ease of access to transit. READ MORE ABOUT THE BILL HERE.


Support Reducing the Cost of Transportation and Housing NOW!

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Move LA is sponsoring 2 very important initiatives to lower the cost of housing and transportation for low-income Californians and both are in committee early this week:

  • SB 961 by Sen. Ben Allen would provide a new revenue stream for affordable housing in “enhanced infrastructure finance districts” near transit. Up in Senate Transportation and Housing TOMORROW (Tuesday) at 1:30 p.m.
  • Asm. Chris Holden is asking Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3 to provide $50 million for discounted transit passes for low-income students statewide. In committee Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. 

Please consider writing your own letters of support or sign on to our support letters—there are links to the letters and more info in the blog posts below. But to weigh in and be heard before these committee hearings it’s best to call your representative or the chair of the committee asap.

Calling is super easy: Tell the person who answers the phone that you urge the senator to support SB 961 or that you urge the assemblymember to support Asm Holden's budget ask for $50 million for student transit passes. (If you are calling about student transit passes and the person who answers the phone asks for a bill number tell them Asm. Holden's ask is not related to a current bill.)

And that's it. If you live in their district you will be asked for your name and address; if you are calling the chair and don’t live in their district say you want to make your opinion known because you think this is an important issue. That's all. The call usually takes a minute but your opinion will be counted!

You can google the Wikipedia page of each district if you need to find out whether you live there. If your district isn’t represented on the committee please call the chair.

For SB 961 call the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee:
Senator Jim Beall (Chair) • D-San Jose • District 15 • (916) 651-4015
Senator Anthony Cannella (Vice Chair) • R-Ceres • District 12 • (916) 651-4012
Senator Benjamin Allen • D-Santa Monica • District 26 • (916) 651-4026
Senator Bill Dodd • D-Napa • District 3 • (916) 651-4003
Senator Ted Gaines • R-El Dorado • District 1 • (916) 651-4001
Senator Cathleen Galgiani • D-Stockton • District 5 • (916) 651-4005
Senator Mike McGuire • D-Healdsburg • District 2 • 916-651-4002
Senator Mike Morrell • R-Rancho Cucamonga • District 23 • 916.651.4023
Senator Richard D. Roth • D-Riverside • District 31 • (916) 651-4031
Senator Nancy Skinner • D-Berkeley • District 9 • (916) 651-4009
Senator Andy Vidak • R-Hanford • District 14 • (916) 651-4014
Senator Bob Wieckowski • D-Fremont • District 10 • (916) 651-4010
Senator Scott D. Wiener • D-San Francisco • District 11 • (916) 651-4011

For funding for discounted student transit passes call Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3
Asm. Richard Bloom (Chair) • D-Santa Monica • District 50 •  (916) 319-2050
Asm. Vincent Fong • R-Bakersfield • District 34 • (916) 319-2050
Asm. Kevin Mullin • D-South San Francisco • District 22 • (916) 319-2022
Asm. Jim Patterson • R-Fresno • District 23 •  (916) 319-2023
Asm. Philip Ting • D-San Francisco • District 19 • (916) 319-2019
Asm. Jay Obernolte • R-Big Bear Lake  • District 33 • (916) 319-2033

Thank you for your support on these important issues!


Diversifying Transit Systems with . . .

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As Metro considers building a gondola from Union Station to Dodger Stadium, we should also consider the huge success—and the factors that made it successful—of Portland's aerial tram from the hipster South Waterfront neighborhood below to the Oregon Health & Science University's main campus atop Marquam Hill.

The terminal at the base of the tram is at the intersection of two streets that are the most transportation-diverse in the country, with cars, buses, shuttles, Portland's famous streetcar, a soaring pedestrian and bike bridge, a shipyard, cycle track, and the densest bike parking in the U.S.

Why a tram? OHSU is Portland's largest employer and medical destination and there are several medical schools, while Marquam Hill is home to hospitals, a residential neighborhood and nature trails—but is accesible by just two 2-lane roads. What was the best way to transport lots and lots of people? The city and stakeholders decided on the aerial tram, which travels 3,300 linear feet at 22 mph during the 4-minute trip, has a capacity of 79 people, and one arrives every few minutes.

There's more info HERE.


SB 961 Would Create New Transit-Oriented Neighborhoods Where Transit Riders Could Afford to Live

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The bill, which Move LA wrote and is sponsoring, would create "Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement (NIFTI-2) Districts" around rail stations and along high-frequency bus corridors These districts would collect the enhanced tax increment from increased property and sales taxes within the district and use these funds to invest in district improvements. 

The bill requires a NIFTI-2 district to dedicate 40% of the sales and property tax increment to deed-restricted affordable housing and 60% to transit capital including stations and programs promoting ridership, transit-oriented development, first-last-mile connections, active transportation, parks, urban greening and urban forestry, and detached/decoupled parking in new developments for residents, businesses, and visitors in lieu of on-site parking.

While these districts will require the concurrence of the county, unlike other "enhanced infrastructure finance districts" or EIFDs there will be no voter approval required to issue bonds to implement a district plan.

Move LA believes that the program as provided in the bill could provide a significant breakthrough in generating resources for affordable housing!

Funding would be available for detached parking structures with no more than one space per residential unit and for groundfloor space occupied by pedestrian-oriented commercial uses. Parking revenues may be used to implement transportation demand management programs to reduce trips.

The tax increment may also be used for other projects and programs to reduce GHG emissions and air pollution by reducing trips to and fron the district. Revenues are not to be used for highway improvements.

There's more info in the blog post further down the page, with links to our letter of support.

We'll keep you updated!

 


Student Transit Passes Again: The Budget Play! Now!

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Last year so many people, schools, organizations and local governments supported Asm. Chris Holden's student transit pass bill that one document listed more than 400. This year please add your logo to our sign-on letter of support (link is below) for a statewide program for discounted transit passes for low-income students at middle-schools, high schools, public colleges and universities.

Asm. Holden, our longtime student transit pass champion, has asked Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting to adopt budget language providing $50 million from the FY 2018-2019 budget to fund the program described in last year’s AB 17 (read the bill language HERE). The budget talks are beginning now, in advance of the “May revise” that alters the Governor’s budget based on the most recent economic forecasts. The ask will be made in Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3 chaired by Asm. Richard Bloom—a good friend to students and to transit passes!—next Wednesday, May 2. Come on by to Room 447 in the State Capitol at 9:30 a.m.! (Best to get us your logo by COB Friday if you can.)

We described this “budget play” in earlier emails: Holden’s 2018 student pass bill, AB 2304, is being held on suspense in Assembly Appropriations and will hopefully secure funding for a study by the UC-Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. This bill was in response to the Governor’s AB 17 veto message—which stated the Governor wanted “a fuller discussion of how local transit discount programs work and how any new ones should be paid for.”

The budget play is one way to fund a statewide transit pass program next year without waiting for the study to be completed. This is our third attempt to win funding, but the bill has won such broad and bipartisan support, and we’re obviously so determined, that we believe this is a path that could get us all the way to victory this year!

Download the sign-on letter HERE and if you want to sign on send us your organization's logo, or customize the letter to make it your own and email it to victor.munoz@asm.ca.gov in Holden’s office. We'll let you know what happens!

 


SB 961: 40% for Affordable Housing & Letter of Support by Wednesday?!?

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Move LA is very proud to be the sponsor of SB 961 by Senator Ben Allen with the goal of creating more housing in neighborhoods where transit riders can afford to live. SB 961 authorizes cities and counties to create tax increment financing districts—called "Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement Districts" (NIFTI-2)—that dedicate 40% of the sales and property tax increment to build or rehab affordable housing around rail stations and along bus corridors. The bill will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Wednesday April 25 and we ask for your support (SEE BELOW)!

Community redevelopment agencies used a similar tax increment financing tool to make investments in "blighted" neighborhoods (20% of the increment went to affordable housing) before the agencies were abolished in 2011. Since then local governments have struggled to find new ways to finance improvements that spur private investment and economic development and, especially, to help build affordable housing. The legislature has responded by creating several kinds of infrastructure finance districts, but none with the affordable housing commitments of SB 961 or the ability to bond against the tax increment without voter approval—which makes it more likely local governments will enact them.

SB 961 would provide an important new source of funding to address the housing shortage that is displacing so many people and contributing to the suffering of those who are living on the streets. And because it will result in more affordable housing near transit stations and stops it will also help boost transit ridership by making it easier for the people who ride transit the most to live close by. Half the affordable housing would be deed-restricted for people making less than 60% of area median income (AMI) and half for those making less than 30% of AMI or who are homeless. 

The rest of the revenue stream could be used for:

  • improvements to transit stations and bus stops
  • first-last-mile connections
  • active transportation
  • urban greening

The ultimate goal? Affordable, walkable, bike-able, mixed-use, mixed-income transit-oriented neighborhoods (that's a mouthful!). Read the bill language HERE. Download a sample/sign-on letter HERE. And download our letter of support HERE. If you want to sign on please send me your name, or if you are representing an organization send me your logo: gloria@movela.org.

 


Streetsblog: "Vision 2020 Would Go A Long Way Toward Electrification"

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We were very pleased to see Joe Linton's review on Streetsblog LA of our #Vision2020 initiative, which we discussed with industry and government leaders, including Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, at the LA Cleantech Incubator on Thursday. Joe wrote:

Move L.A., the non-profit credited with planting the seeds for Metro transportation tax ballot Measures R and M, has its sights on an ambitious new proposal. “Vision 2020” goals include ending air pollution and abating climate change. Among proposed Vision 2020 revenues would be a four-county sales tax; the four counties – L.A., Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange – are the ones included in the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Vision 2020 was the subject of a half-day conference this morning, hosted by Move L.A., CALSTART, and others. In her keynote at the event, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols stressed the need for a “massive transformation of our transportation system” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 99 percent. How to get there? “Electrify everything.”

The Vision 2020 proposal would go a long way towards electrification.

At this point, Vision 2020 is a “straw man” proposal – an early draft expected to change quite a bit as it becomes realized.

Move L.A.’s straw man proposal aims for ~$1.2 to ~$1.4 billion annually in revenue from a mix of sources: READ STREETSBLOG'S STORY HERE.  OR READ VISION 2020 HERE.



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